The Clare Spark Blog

December 29, 2014

The Leader Principle

FDRIn the late 1930s-early 1940s, Harvard psychologists tried to nullify the Führer-Prinzip (detestable) with an FDR version whereby Franklin Roosevelt would embody the Eros they attributed to Democracy, for Hitler was obviously a hater, while the FDR they were promoting was a lover of humanity, as was obvious (to them) by New Deal legislation and its concern for the “common man.” (Or as Barack Obama would say, the middle class.)

For instance, Gordon Allport and Henry A. Murray wrote worksheets for civilian morale that advised “Linking of Present Leader to the Idealized Leaders of the Past”: ”The more the present leader is seen as continuing in the footsteps of the great idealized leaders of the past, the better the morale. (Picture of Roosevelt between Washington and Lincoln would encourage this identification.) The more the present leader is seen as falling short of the stature of the great idealized leaders of the past, the worse the identification. By effective leadership the group’s latent communality may emerge through identification with the leader. If this smacks of the Führer-Prinzip, we would insist that identification is a process common to all societies, and that what distinguishes the democratic leadership from the Nazi leadership is not the process of identification but the content of what is identified with. It is the function of the democratic leader to inspire confidence in the democratic way of life, in its value for the individual or the society and not mere identification with his person, or the mythical Volk.”

[Clare:] Virtually the entire postwar program of “liberal” reform was foreshadowed in these pages. As formulated in the mid-nineteenth century, abolitionist and working-class demands for universal education, equal rights, and enforcement of the Constitution would be redirected into the quotas of affirmative action or multiculturalism. In worksheet #17, “Long Term Aspects of Democratic Morale Building,” a program of integration and deferential politeness would rearrange the American people’s community: “…far from ignoring or suppressing diversities of intelligence, the objective of democratic morale-building should be their conscious integration into an improving collective opinion. The techniques of such integration exist. They are inherent in the democratic tradition of tolerance and the democratic custom of free discussion. They exist, however, in outline rather than in any ultimate or perhaps even very high state of development. [sic!CS]


[Quoting Gordon Allport:]…Our pressure groups [the Jews complaining about Nazis?] are loud, their protests vehement and our method of electioneering bitter and sometimes vicious. In the process of becoming self-reliant Americans have lost respect, docility, and trust in relation to their leaders. Our habit of unbridled criticism, though defended as a basic right, brings only a scant sense of security to ourselves in an emergency, and actively benefits the enemies of the nation.”

[Clare:] Such are the imprecations of integral nationalism, brought to you by Harvard social psychologists who viewed themselves as fighting fascism while imitating its chief tenets. But we are not now, nor have we ever been, fascists, right?

Happy New Year! (For the complete blog see


  1. […] Revival“ von 2006 einsah und verwendete. Diese Zitate wurden ebenfalls auf ihrem Blog hier und hier veröffentlicht. Die zweite Quelle sind Photographien eines Originalordners des Seminars, der auf […]

    Pingback by Die Arbeitsblätter des Seminary on Psychological Problems of Morale von Henry Murray und Gordon Allport von 1941 - Liberation Network — July 7, 2019 @ 5:46 pm | Reply

  2. Hmm. What Gordon Allport says has also been said here in the UK and in France about so-called ‘individualism’: ‘In the process of becoming self-reliant, [citizens] have lost respect, docility, and trust in relation to their leaders’.

    No wonder they give us communitarianism as an antidote. It hasn’t been working and never will.

    Deny a person’s individuality and one denies his spirit, personality and mind. Look at productivity figures, voting percentages and so on. It’s a common theme today. We in Europe read that the answers are zero-hours working contracts, compulsory voting and community volunteerism (young and old) — all of which the State dictates.

    Comment by churchmouse — March 16, 2015 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

    • Sorry, should have said ‘much of which the State wishes to dictate’. That said, some European countries do want to make ‘community service’ — volunteering — compulsory.

      Comment by churchmouse — March 16, 2015 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

  3. Reblogged this on YDS: The Clare Spark Blog and commented:

    In honor of SOTU, am re-blogging this teaser from my research on social psychologists at Harvard trying to change attitudes about The Leader Principle.

    Comment by clarelspark — January 22, 2015 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  4. You write “while the FDR they were promoting was a lover of humanity, as was obvious (to them) by New Deal legislation and its concern for the “common man.” ” Can you tell me the top five, or at least, top three things that FDR did that lead you to think that not only (in your view) was he on the wrong track, but also that he was not a “lover of humanity”. Yes, as regards the Holocaust, his failure to do something like bombing the railroad tracks to the Death Camps was very wrong, and one can argue that he might have in some way stood up to Stalin apropos the Soviet absorption of Eastern Europe (one can argue that, but there may have been nothing that could have done short of more years of horrific war), but DOMESTICALLY what would you argue were FDR’s anti-human policies? I am trying to clarity your views, though I will never agree with them.

    Comment by Stephen M. Baraban — January 5, 2015 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

    • To Stephen Baraban: Did you read the blog? Henry A Murray and Gordon Allport were ardent New Dealers, who recommended fascist principles of leadership, falsifying history as they did it. What exactly did New Deal measures do for the Common Man (i.e., the working class). So you are obviously not a leftist, but a mainstream social democrat, determined to defend the indefensible New Deal that failed to end the Depression.

      Comment by clarelspark — January 5, 2015 @ 6:50 pm | Reply

      • Let me say this, Dr. Spark, if I may: of course I read the entire blog, but I wanted to gently pass over the fact the Murray and Allport quote about vigorously promoting an identification process “common to all societies” hardly strikes me as the ‘smoking gun’ you believe it to be. For it to be such, there would have to have been something ‘fascistic’ being advocated in a much more specific way, rather than simply an admission that some may be reminded of fascism. What New Deal measures did were to help working class individuals survive the Depression, even though these measures did not end it. I am not ‘obviously’ anything, except that I am not a conservative or a right-wing ‘libertarian’. Marc Cooper is one beacon: when there was an intelligent and viable leftist cause to join, Allende’s movement in Chile, he worked hard for that movement–on other occasions, as I understand it, he has been more about proposing and defending left-of-center reforms.

        Comment by Stephen Baraban — January 13, 2015 @ 9:26 pm

  5. Cheerful stuff.

    Thanks for another year of great, challenging writing.

    Happy New Year!

    Comment by OregonGuy — December 30, 2014 @ 1:18 am | Reply

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